Junior class leads Little Elm to first district title

Rusty Segler had no intention of leaving A&M Consolidated.

He had achieved great success in his career, leading Liberty Hill to back-to-back state finals appearances in the late 1980s, and planned on retiring at Consolidated.

But a friend told him about an open position at Little Elm and the group of freshmen the team had.

"I looked into it," Segler said. "When I got to Liberty Hill we had a group of four or five strong sophomores and we built it and went on. I saw this [Little Elm] as the same type of thing. It's eerily similar."

Segler took the job before the 2010-11 season and couldn't be happier with the decision. In his second year at the school, Little Elm (26-6, 12-0 in District 4-4A) captured its first district title in school history and looks poised to win its first playoff game at the 4A level.

Little Elm opens the postseason with the winner of the 3-4A play-in game between Amarillo Palo Duro and Canyon.

"I had to talk my wife into it, but I said 'let's go try this and see what happens,'" Segler said. "This is been a pretty good little dream season so far. I hope it doesn't end."

There's no secret to Little Elm's success -- the class of 2013 that lured Segler to the Lobos has exceptional talent.

Guard/forward Biron Joseph (6-foot-5) leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 19 points and eight boards per game. Segler said Joseph is a complete player who excels on the perimeter but has the size and grit to play inside if needed.

"He's got all the tools -- all of them," Segler said of Joseph. "He can make a coach look pretty good."

Devante' Pullum gives the Lobos a pure point guard. Segler said Pullum knows what to do on the court before the head coach tells him, and Pullum is among the areas most productive passers, averaging six assists per game in addition to scoring 11 points per game.

Both figure to be Division I recruits, and coupled with experienced seniors Bryan Owen, Anthony Egwu and Lamont West, the Lobos have become one of the area's surprise success stories, winning a District 4-4A that's long been dominated by Denton Ryan and The Colony.

The regular season couldn't have gone more smoothly for Little Elm. Despite losing Pullum for most of nondistrict to a foot injury he suffered in football, the Lobos beat a number of solid 5A teams before sweeping their district.

Their most impressive games include wins over Rowlett (63-59), Lewisville (62-57) and Frisco Centennial (69-49).

But Little Elm earned its stripes in district play where it twice beat The Colony, a preseason favorite to make a run at a state title, including a 68-65 win at The Colony on Tuesday to wrap up the 4-4A crown.

The win was particularly sweet for Little Elm because of the sudden transfer of Damion McIntosh. Slated to be a part of Little Elm's historic season, McIntosh transferred to The Colony before the year began in a move that Segler called one of the biggest shocks he'd ever had in his life.

"It was pretty satisfying to beat them twice," Segler said.